Why Is My Well Water Yellow? What To Do

by Jay | Updated on January 20th, 2023

Have you ever noticed that the water from your well is yellow? It’s normal to be concerned about why this might be happening. In this blog post, we’ll look at the common causes of yellow well water and what you can do to fix it.

Why is my well water yellow?

Your well water can turn yellow due to various factors, such as iron bacteria, organic materials like tannin, or old and rusty pipes. Iron bacteria are small organisms naturally occurring in soil and water and can cause a yellowish tint to your water supply.

Abstract yellow water stream. Abstract golden flowing.

Additionally, tannic acid is created by decaying vegetation in swamps, which can also cause your well water to become yellowish.

Other possible causes include sediment buildup in the municipal water supply or ferric iron in the area around your well. To determine the exact cause of your yellow water, it is best to seek professional help.

Iron bacteria in the well water

Iron bacteria in well water can cause a variety of problems for homeowners. These bacteria, which combine iron, manganese, and oxygen, can produce yellowish water with an unpleasant odor. Iron bacteria can also cause stains and slime buildup in pipes and fixtures. This can lead to clogged pipes and poor water flow.

If you notice your well water turning yellow or having an odd smell, it’s likely due to iron bacteria contamination. This is especially true if the issue only occurs after the water has been sitting for a while. In addition to yellowish-tinted water, there may also be orange, red, or brown stains.

To combat iron bacteria in well water, proper treatment is needed. There are several solutions available depending on the severity of the problem:

Chlorination or ozonation are two common treatments that help reduce bacterial growth while improving the taste and odor characteristics of the water supply.

If these treatments don’t work, more advanced methods, such as reverse osmosis, may be necessary to remove iron particles from your drinking water supply.

Manganese in the well water

Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in well water. It can give the water a yellow, brown, or black tint and an unpleasant metallic taste.

Manganese is used in many industries, with most of it used as an alloying element in steel. High levels of manganese in well water can lead to health risks if ingested over long periods, so it’s important to have your well water regularly tested for contaminants like manganese.

The best way to reduce manganese levels in your well water is by using a filtration system targeting this mineral.

Removing Manganese from your home’s wells

Removing manganese from your home’s wells is essential to ensure you and your family drink clean water. Manganese is an element found naturally in soils and groundwater, but when present in high concentrations, it can give your well water a yellowish tint and cause it to taste unpleasant. It can also stain fixtures and appliances throughout your home.

Fortunately, there are several ways to remove manganese from your well water. The most common method is an oxidation filter; this filter works by oxidizing the manganese and trapping the particles before entering your home’s plumbing system. Other methods include installing an iron filter or a reverse osmosis system.

In addition to removing manganese from your home’s wells, it’s important to take steps to prevent iron bacteria from forming in the first place. Iron bacteria can turn the water yellow or brown and is often accompanied by high levels of iron and sulfur, which can further affect the taste of the water.

To prevent iron bacteria from forming, keep an eye on any changes in the smell or color of the water and have it tested regularly for contamination at a laboratory.

These steps will help ensure that you and your family drink water safely.

Hydrogen Sulfide in the water

Hydrogen sulfide is a chemical compound often found in well water and can give it an unpleasant smell. It is produced as a byproduct of certain bacteria in the groundwater or naturally occurring sulfates in the earth.

Hydrogen sulfide can also make water corrosive to metals, such as steel or copper, and may cause yellow or black stains on kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

Removing Hydrogen Sulfide from your home’s wells

Hydrogen sulfide can give your home’s well water a nasty smell and taste, but it can easily be removed. Treatment systems that use chemical processes to eliminate high levels of hydrogen sulfide from the water are available.

These systems work by oxidizing the hydrogen sulfide molecules, eliminating the rotten egg odor or taste. In addition, chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide may be used to remove hydrogen sulfide from your home’s well water.

If the odors persist, sulfur-reducing bacteria may be present in your pipes, causing the smell. Chlorinating your well can help kill this bacteria, though this is not always a permanent solution.

Suppose you suspect you have an issue with sulfur-reducing bacteria. In that case, it is best to contact a professional for additional testing and advice on eliminating these odors from your home’s water supply.

Algae and Algae bloom in the well

Algae and Algae Blooms in the Well can be a serious problem, leading to unpleasant tastes and odors, reduced water clarity, and even toxic effects.

\Algal blooms can be in many colors, such as blue-green, yellow, brown, pink, or red. Not all algal blooms are toxic, but they may pose a health risk – especially for infants and young children under six.

Algae blooms occur when there is an excess of phosphorus or nitrogen in the water; these nutrients can come from sources like malfunctioning septic systems or household products containing phosphates.

Soil runoff can also produce a variety of colors, including yellow, red, brown, and gray. Algae tend to thrive in warm, slow-moving water with high nutrient levels.

When algae grow rapidly in large quantities, it creates what is known as an algal bloom – when the water turns different colors, such as blue-green or brown. 

Disinfecting and treating Algae Blooms in the wells

Algae blooms can be a nuisance and a health hazard in wells. These blooms occur when naturally occurring cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) grow out of control, producing colored water and an unpleasant odor.

Poor water sanitation, low or inconsistent chlorine levels, poor water filtration, and short filter run times can all contribute to the growth of these algae blooms. To protect your well water supply from potential contamination, it is important to treat any algae blooms as soon as they are noticed.

Conventional water treatment—coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and chlorination—can generally remove cyanobacterial cells and low levels of iron bacteria from the water supply.

When exposed to oxygen or disinfectants during treatment, soluble ferrous iron oxidizes, causing the water to turn cloudy or yellow. If you notice discolored or cloudy well water with an unpleasant odor, contact a licensed professional to test and evaluate your well’s safety.

Organic matter in the well

Organic matter in the well is a common cause of yellow-tinted water. This is caused when small iron bacteria combine iron and manganese with oxygen and form a yellow buildup that appears in your well water.

If your well water turns yellow, it’s likely due to iron bacteria, organic material such as tannin, ferric iron, or rusty pipes.

These contaminants can cause discoloration and unpleasant smells when they enter the water supply. To prevent this, you should regularly test your well water for potential pollutants and take appropriate action if any are found. You can also install special filters to reduce the amount of organic material in the water supply.

If your well has been contaminated by organic matter, then there are several steps you can take to restore it to its original clean state. The first step is to identify the source of contamination so that measures can be taken to prevent future contamination.

Once this has been done, you may need to use chlorine or other disinfectants to remove contaminants from the water system. Lastly, regular well maintenance should be performed to ensure safe drinking water for years.

Testing your home’s water quality

Yellow water wave

Testing your home’s water quality is important to ensure the safety and health of your loved ones. If your well water suddenly becomes yellow, it could be due to contamination of iron bacteria, ferric iron, or rusty pipes.

Other causes could be old cast iron, steel, or galvanized iron pipes that have started rusting. To determine the cause of the yellow tint in your water and ensure its safety for drinking, it’s essential to get a professional laboratory test done, including some of the most common causes, such as tannins and iron.

You can also look for any additional signs, such as discoloration or a bad tap water smell which may adversely affect your well water quality. These steps will help you identify potential issues with your home’s water quality and take necessary measures before they become more serious.

Is it safe to drink yellow tap water?

Is your tap water yellow? This discoloration is usually a sign of naturally occurring minerals in the water, like iron and manganese. Thankfully, this type of yellow water isn’t dangerous to consume.

However, if you notice rust-colored sediment in your water or it appears milky and opaque, let it sit for a few minutes before drinking. This could be an indicator that you have rusty pipes, which are also typically safe to drink.

In any case, contact your local water provider to ensure there are no other issues with your supply. Generally speaking, yellow tap water is still safe to use for bathing and washing dishes.

How to treat yellow well water

If you’ve noticed that the water from your well has become yellow, then it’s time to take action. Fixing yellow well water isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

The first step is to have a professional lab test your well water to determine what the issue is. If the results show high iron content, then injecting chlorine into a mixing tank is a good solution.

To fix iron bacteria in well water, you’ll need to contact your local water authority and follow their instructions. In some cases, drinking bottled water until the yellow-ish color subsides will do the trick.

Alternatively, you can also install a rust filter and softener to remove the iron from your well water. No matter what the cause of your yellow well water is, there are solutions that can help restore it back to its original state.

Contact a professional plumber or technician to have your well tested

It is important to have your private or semi-public well tested by a professional plumber or technician to ensure the water quality is safe for consumption. Testing the well will provide you with information on the quality of your water, and it is beneficial to take preventative measures before any potential issues arise.

The yellow tint in well water may be caused by small iron bacteria combining iron and manganese with oxygen, forming a yellow buildup that appears in bathwater. If rust is present, it could be due to old, rusted, or corroded pipes, so having a professional plumber inspect it is essential. Generally, yellow water isn’t usually a difficult issue but should warrant an immediate call to a plumber if present.

In addition to testing for iron levels, as this can cause yellowish stains on laundry and dishes, testing should also be done for other contaminants such as lead, nitrates, total coliforms & E. coli bacteria which can all have adverse effects on health if consumed over long periods.


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."